Sassa to pay out Covid-19 relief funds this week

Sassa CEO Totsie Memela apologised to those inconvenienced by the slow rate of payouts of Social Relief of Distress grants.
Sassa CEO Totsie Memela apologised to those inconvenienced by the slow rate of payouts of Social Relief of Distress grants.
Image: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says it will make Covid-19 social relief of distress grant payouts this week.

Spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said the entity was operating with a third of its staff under level 4 restrictions — and that a move to level 3 would increase human resource capacity drastically so that payments could be made quicker than at present.

It was reported last week that just 10 of the special so-called “Covid-19 grants” had been paid.

“Much progress has been made in preparing for the payment of large numbers of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grants,” said Letsatsi.

Unbanked applicants would be paid through money sent using an ATM of their choice. Sassa said it would finalise contracting for this facility with banks on Monday so that payments could be made this week.

Beneficiaries can also open accounts at their nearest post office.

“The mammoth task of ensuring that the correct and deserving individuals are paid has started in earnest. This process involved intense negotiations with institutions in the value chain and this unfortunately accounted for the delays that were encountered.

“These delays proved to be worth it, given the number of applicants that could be excluded during the process as they are either in receipt of social grants or UIF — two factors which expressly disqualify applicants from receiving this grant,” Letsatsi said.

Sassa CEO Totsie Memela apologised to those inconvenienced.

“We received just under five million applications for this new grant and we had to compare information provided by applicants with other government and private databases to ensure that people with an income and recipients of other social grants are not included in these applications,” Memela said.

The agency said it had to remove duplicated and incomplete applications which account for nearly 50% of all applications received.

“Up to now, we have eliminated a number of undeserving applicants and this has saved the fiscus close to R14m which could have skyrocketed to more than R81m by October. As soon as the vetting of applications is completed, the payments will start rolling in at an even faster pace,” Memela added.

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